Bods for tots – students given opportunity to donate toward cause

Victoria Garcia

In the Topeka area alone there are nearly 20,000 children who are in need of a brighter holiday. For more than 60 years the United States Marine Corps Reserve has been striving to fulfill that need across America with its Toys for Tots program. Started in 1947, the very first gift donated was a Raggedy Ann doll.

Washburn has been involved in the drive since 2002, when it first donated 40 toys to the local drive. Law library assistant and Washburn subcommittee chair Vicki Doze explained that each year the campus drive is about exceeding the previous year’s goal.

“We make it even more fun that way,” said Doze. “Last year we set our goal at 300 toys and ended up collecting 535 from all around the campus.”

This year’s donation goal is 400 toys and Doze already has a feeling that the number of toys collected will be much more than that. After contacting different offices around the campus, Doze and the committee were able to get donation bins spread out at a variety of locations.

The places include the Admissions Office, Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center, the Washburn Bookstore, the Business Office, the Ichabod Service Center, the Law Library, the Living Learning Center Lobby, the Student Life Office, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and the Washburn Village.

A wide variety of gifts are needed for both boys and girls ranging from age 0 to 18 years old. Toys must be brand new and unwrapped. While young children are easy to shop for, donators are encouraged to be aware of recalled toys and steer clear of contributing them to the drive.

“We want to ask people to especially donate items for teenagers, as they are easily forgotten,” said Doze. “The money that is donated usually goes toward gifts that are more expensive and suitable for adolescents. Last year we collected $590 in cash.”

Other acceptable and affordable gifts for the teenage age group include table games, DVDs, cosmetics, CD players and DVD players.

Washburn bookstore shoppers have the opportunity to receive 25 percent off of any donated gift item for Toys for Tots that is purchased at the Bookstore and put into their donation box. This excludes textbooks.

For the second consecutive year, donation bins are being placed in residential halls. Student Recreation and Wellness Center program coordinator and subcommittee member John Cummings hopes the extra bins in areas of high student traffic will increase the amount of gifts that are collected this year.

“Last year we did a good job promoting the Toys for Tots drive and I think that was reflected in the amount of donations that we received,” said Cummings. “Because we are an institute of higher education, we are surrounded by people that are capable of donating their time and money to help the less fortunate experience a happier Christmas.”

Doze experienced the power of Toys for Tots firsthand after her son Staff Sergeant Jesse Doze was injured in Iraq Dec. 11, 2006. As a result, she and her family spent Christmas Day in Brook Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“At that time my grandson was 11 months and one of the Marines who was visiting the hospital brought a toy by for him,” said Doze. “It was really a moment of surprise for me, to see the entire process of this drive come full circle.”

With the Washburn Toys for Tots donation continuing on campus until 5 p.m. Dec. 6, students still have time to contribute. Doze is anticipating the positive end result.

“It’s a good feeling to give,” said Doze. “I can hardly explain the elation I feel knowing that these families are really going to appreciate these special gifts.”